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Minimizing effort

Nobody will follow you if you don’t blaze a clear path.

I’ve been learning a lot about user experience as it relates to design and marketing. Building a platform means blazing a clear path that people can follow. In the digital age, that means minimizing your effort.

Here’s an example. I decided to place the full content of each blog post on the front page of my website, rather than offering a “snippet” or “preview” that users have to click on to see more.

Click > Scroll is harder than Scroll.

What could you simplify for the people engaging with your platform?

Should you turn comments on or off on your blog?

Should you enable comments on your blog? This is a common question, whether you’re just starting a blog or have had one for years. Making an informed decision means understanding why people comment on our blogs in the first place.

There are three types of blog commentators:

  • The Moved. People who are positively impacted by your content and want to say thank you or share their experience. This group may also respect your knowledge and want to ask a question.
  • The Irritable. People who believe their opinion is right and are irritated that your blog contradicts them. They feel the need to make their voice heard. These people also feel the need to reply to other comments.
  • The Bored. These people have nothing else to do, so they are going to comment on your blog.

It takes intentionality and energy to manage these people groups. But some are more draining than others. Hint: Irritable people comment much more frequently than Moved people or even Bored people.

Seth Godin decided to leave comments off (see around 8:00 in the video). He finds that thinking about what irritable people will say distracts him from producing original content. Michael Hyatt, on the other hand, initially rejected comments, but then turned comments back on. He found that the interaction brought.

There’s no right answer.  It depends on the blog. For Michael Hyatt, his audience is largely CEOs and business leaders who are not irritable or bored. But if your content is controversial, or you have a sensitive audience, comments might cause more problems than they solve.

What type of commentators does your blog attract?

 

People Don’t/Do Change

I’ve heard all my life two incredibly wrong narratives.

“People don’t change.”

and

“Anyone can change, with enough love and motivation.”

I think both of these have elements of truth, but aren’t quite on track.

The real truth is more like,

“People do change, unavoidably. You simply can’t count on them to change in a particular trajectory.”

Anger, Unforgiveness, and Justification

A lot of things have happened over the course of my life to make me angry. Many people have done things that have hurt me. Some of them meant to, others didn’t. Intentions matter, but they don’t feel like they do.

I said something to my wife tonight that I thought was a valuable realization.

“I am 100% justified in my anger. But I’m 100% unjustified in my unforgiveness.”

I’m marinating on that thought.

Procrastination and Nike

I want to publish. I want to release. But I’m so scared it’s not good enough. Not yet.

My friend Tom Thelen is a youth motivational speaker. We have worked on a number of projects together, including his Victimproof series. Tom is someone I look up to from a personal and business standpoint.

Tom and I had a conversation about this a year and a half ago. I was talking about a book I was working on. It is a good book – but not good enough to publish.

I keep getting caught in that trap. The procrastination trap. It’s easy to do. Lies are easy to believe.

– This isn’t good enough. I can’t take action. I can’t take this and run with it. It’s not worth publishing.
– I will probably be more equipped to write this later. I should write a little bit now but mostly finish it then. Someday.
– I’ll find the time to work on this later.
– I’m not good enough at this kind of thing. Nobody will want to hear what I have to say.
– This is only my 80% best, I know it. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get it to 100% perfect.

Tom said something in response to this that I can’t forget.

“Your 80% best might be someone’s favorite book.”

And it’s true. Ultimately, there comes a time where we have to push our products and projects out of the next and see them fly. They will be fledgeling and ill-equipped and only 80% ready, but they have to go sometime.

It’s not an excuse for releasing sloppy work… But work needs to be finalized sometime.  Probably sooner than you think.

Consistency

The greatest lesson I’ve learned over the past year is consistency. I’m a jack of all trades, a man of many ideas. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered time and talent are like butter. You can spread them so thin among so many projects that each project is ultimately undeveloped and undervalued.

It’s fun to switch from project to project, but eventually all the projects end up unfinished and abandoned. I don’t want to do that anymore.

That’s where consistent discipline comes in. Seth Godin wrote recently about this in his blog post, SUSDAT: Show Up, Sit Down and Type.

For those of us who are jack of all trades, masters of none, discipline is hard. We like sticking with projects we’re enamored by. But the excitement and glow wears off quickly.

That’s when sticking with it is important.

For now, I’ve limited myself to only two projects.

One is my web design company, LixiMedia. I work on this “project” every day. The nice thing about this is that it’s really a bunch of sub projects, so it satisfies the need to jump from project to project.

The second I haven’t talked about yet. I’m insecure about this project, but I realize if I’m serious about it I will need to release it soon.

More posts to come on this topic.

The Balance in Quitting

Quitting is a balance.

  • As a kid, you’re told not to do it.  “Don’t be a quitter.  Stick it out.  Nobody likes quitters.”
  • As an adult, you’re told the opposite.  “They’re clearly not right for you.  Get out of that relationship.  That’s a deadbeat job.  Give it up.”

But there’s a balance.

  • You can hang on to a toxic situation for so long you burn yourself out and forget what normalcy is like.
  • You can jump ship too early and miss out on something that would have been amazing.

As humans, there’s no way to tell what’s too early or late.  We’re not machines.  We can’t predict the future.  And so, we will always have to wonder and second guess.

  • What if I had stuck it out just a few more months?  Maybe things would have really changed.
  • What if I had quit a long time ago?  Maybe I’d be ahead in a new place in life.
  • What if I quit now?  Will I cause a disaster?  Will it be the best thing I’ve ever done?

There’s no way to know.  But we can do our best to balance on the tightrope.  And we have to be okay with knowing that as humans, we’ll always be leaning one way or the other.

The best thing I’ve found to do is to throw your whole self into something.  Whether you’re writing a resignation letter, a breakup letter, or simply crawling in bed with the same person night after night, coming into work at 8:30 am morning after morning, exhausted from having too much in your schedule.  Whether you’re quitting or not quitting, don’t keep one foot in and one out.

In the end, balance is found in the finality of our decisions and the heart we put into them.

And balance is found in the health of our decisions.

It’s tricky, but balance is vital.